Immigration and Threats

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Bishop Sally Dyck of the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, Bishop Jeffrey Lee of the Diocese of Chicago, and Bishop Wayne Miller of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have issued a letter on the new federal immigration enforcement guidelines issued by the Department of Homeland Security:

This is a difficult time in many of our congregations. Last week, the Department of Homeland Security released guidelines that greatly increase the number of immigrants to this country who are at risk for deportation. Many people who are now fearful that they will be arrested and deported are parents, children, leaders in our congregations, and valued members of our communities.

We ask especially that you pray individually and together for people who now must worry each day about suddenly losing their jobs, homes, families, and hopes for stable and safe lives in this country. We also invite you to discern how God may be calling you to respond. In each of our judicatories, we are making available resources and practical support to our immigrant members. Each of our denominations is also exploring additional ways to support our immigrant members in these difficult times, and we will keep you informed.

We understand that securing the borders of the United States is important work. But scripture commands us to welcome the strangers in our midst and to care for widows and orphans. The Trump administration’s new immigration priorities go far beyond seeking the deportation of dangerous criminals; they call for the arrest and deportation of millions of people whose only offense may have been to enter the country without documents or to get a driver’s license. Many of these immigrants have lived among us for years, and we have embraced one another as sisters and brothers in Christ or faithful companions in other traditions. Soon we could find friends and fellow congregants taken from us without due process or right to appeal, without a chance to say goodbye to their citizen children and families, and without hope of returning.

We value the diversity of beliefs and political persuasions in our churches. But regardless of your partisan leanings, we invite you to see in our immigrant communities and congregations what we see — parents working to support families, young people seeking an education, once-declining communities revitalized by new people with fresh energy, thriving congregations full of people created in the image of God. None of us wants to see the vibrant hope of these immigrant stories and lives diminished or cruelly ripped apart, but we fear that these new enforcement policies can lead to just that outcome.

The book of Exodus tells us that we “shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” Whether you are today afraid of deportation, or whether your ancestors came to this country long ago, were brought as enslaved people, or were native people stripped of their land and rights, we implore you to remember that as Christians, we have all been aliens in need of welcome and hospitality. We will resist both spiritually and practically the mass deportation of people in our care and in our communities, and we invite you to join us.

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Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Diocese of Washington and Bishop Shannon S. Johnston of the Diocese of Virginia have released a statement about threats against synagogues:

We are grieved by the news that two Jewish schools in our area had to be evacuated [Feb. 27] due to bomb threats. The Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax, Virginia, and the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland, join a list of 72 Jewish community centers in 30 states and Canada that have received a total of 89 bomb threats since the beginning of the year. We worry that these attacks are not isolated incidents, but represent an orchestrated effort to sow fear across our land.

We urge all Christians to join us in prayer and acts of solidarity with our Jewish neighbors. As Christians, we reject all acts of violence against those of other faiths. As Americans, we believe that a threat on any community of faith is a threat against every community of faith. There is no place in our society for anti-Semitism, and we must confront not only those who perpetuate this hatred, but also those who have cultivated a social climate in which bigotry is legitimized.

The fabric of our society is being torn apart, and members of every minority group are increasingly vulnerable as a result. We believe that God calls us to mend the garment of our common life by responding in love to those who are under threat and reclaiming a vision of America where people of all faiths, races, and nationalities are welcome.

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